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Beginner Golf Tips
I was asked just recently about giving tips to a golfing beginner. I have to tell you after a HUGE diatribe I had to reconsider. My list was long, I had to tone it down a bit. So for the sake of simplicity; keeping my sanity and those of you reading this blog, here are my thoughts on what is important for any golf novice or person considering taking up golf as a sport.
Golf CAN be FUN.
Golf is addictive.
Golf isn’t easy.
And more importantly Misery LOVES Company.
Get all that? Good. Now toss it all away. Clear your mind and think happy, happy thoughts. Thoughts that you too can one day be a tour pro; take a deep breath and read this.
There are some things for every beginner to consider. Here are some of my personal thoughts on that matter.
First always remember your basics – the golf grip, the golf stance and golf swing. This will be your fall back JUST IN CASE YOU F*CK UP otherwise known as the J.I.C.Y.F.U rule. If all else fails, any band-aid fix, whatever you have done to “tweak” your swing — go back to basics. A simple swing is an easy swing. An easy swing is a repeatable swing. You will be surprised how calming that will be. It could help you settle yourself down enough to focus on the task at hand — playing golf — versus flogging the golf ball. I am of course assuming you had a lesson or two and can at least hold a club properly without blistering your hands, stand properly and make contact with the ball. If all else fails, and it most invariably will, go back to basics. The pros do. Why should you be any different?
If not, I strongly suggest a golf pro. Do not ask your loved one to teach you. If you want to stay married. If you want to stay a couple. For the love of Pete, NEVER ask them to give you lessons. Trust me. For one thing you won’t listen to them. You will always think you know better even having never picked up a club. Just save yourself the aggravation get lessons from a PGA pro or some other golfing professional.
The key is consistency
All this ensures repeatable success. That is what you want. And the only way that is going to happen is practice. On a side note, if you are going to be consistently bad, consider being consistently bad repeating the same swing. You can at least predict where the ball is going and play for that consistency. With me so far? Good.
In the event you have never played golf, get lessons. This is the single best piece of advice I can give. Seek professional advice, hopefully through one of the many PGA professionals out there. Getting proper training will give you the foundation you need in golf. Not a lot has changed about the way golf has played. Sure rules change as well as equipment but for the most part golf is a feel sport. You have to feel your swing. You have to feel what you’re doing and it’s best done with the aid of a professional. Just remember golf is a process, it takes months to build a proper swing with regular practice — so don’t expect overnight miracles. It will take approximately 22 days to break a habit. Alternatively it will take 22 days to turn something into a habit. Why not learn the right habits with proper instruction? Your body is not a light switch you can turn off and on at the drop of a hat. It takes proper preparation. Build up to that.
An Aside: Remember golf is frustrating. Don’t make it more than it has to be. Remember you are playing a game. If you turn out looking like the image below, chill your uber agro personality, step back and enjoy the fact it is only a game. Forgive yourself bad shots. Nothing you can do about a bad shot. It’s done. Over. Focus and try to make it back on the next few shots. Do not follow up that bad shot with another. Don’t give up. Stick with it. Grind through a bad shot or a bad round.
You can do this several ways. They have tutorials like Stack & Tilt on DVD, which is very popular at the moment. I use a version of Stack & Tilt. You can read about the golf swing. Books like The Golfing Machine by Homer Kelly or Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan are good starting points. Or you can try your hand by finding a suitable golfing professional. When looking for a suitable golf pro interview them first. If you’re comfortable or they come highly recommended then take them for a test drive. If they teach you about the game instead of just hitting balls then that coach could be a keeper. You can always hit balls later on your own time. Their role is to help you learn the game; it’s history, rules, technique, and etiquette. They should be mentoring you in the game of golf. My old golf pro Jim Carson at the Long Beach Golf Practice Center put it this way, “That golf bag of yours is your tool box, it’s my responsibility to fill that tool box with as many tools as possible. The more tools you have the better chance you have of being successful.”
An Additional Aside: Concentrate on what is important — your score. The old adage “It doesn’t count until it goes in,” should ring true with the very fiber of your being. Every good player I have encountered has this ingrained in them. Even struggling they focus on score. Score is everything. Having that one great shot is OK for the short term but think about scoring. If you can save a hole here and there — that adds up. It can keep you in the game and the end result — a lower score — will be your reward. Concentrate on shots 100 yards-and-in, concentrate on your short game around the greens; focus on your putting and try to keep your puts to at least 2 per green. The math is there. The confidence around the greens will improve and so will your game. I know some folks say hitting it long is the key but what they don’t tell you is that if you can’t get the rock in the hole what is the point of hitting it 300 yards and left? So what if you have to carry 200 yards? Hit from the shorter tees if you need to. No shame in that. Getting it in the hole in the fewest strokes should be your goal here.
Some Final Thoughts
I find personal instruction best suited for most golfers – beginners – myself included. And this is coming from someone that has been playing for more than 30 years. Nothing beats the occasional tune up from an informed golf coach. A second set of experienced eyes can only help you improve faster. Trust me what you feel may be completely different from what actually happens. A seasoned golf professional will put you back on the straight and narrow.
If you do decide to hit the golf course, when in doubt about your skill as a golfer there is no shame in playing forward tees. A typical golf round on a regulation course can take anywhere from 3-5 hours so plan accordingly. If time is a constraint try an executive course or pitch & putt (par 3) course. Both welcome beginners and it’s not as intimidating. Try to keep your group up with the group ahead of you. This is common courtesy. Not everyone appreciates a courteous golfer but everyone hates a slow round of golf.
Now what are you waiting for? Get off the fence, pick up a set of clubs and get golfing!
A little about Ringworld
A regular contributor to Greenskeeper.org and various other blogs, Ringworld is also your Community Director at GK. Besides golf he does have a day job. And contrary to popular speculation he is quite good at that too as proof of how poor a golfer he actually is. Read his regular blog here!